I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions, but this time of year, they’re a thing. In the past couple years, for whatever reason, I’ve grown fond of the practice of choosing a word for the year. This year’s word was “trust.” Throughout the year, I’ll meditate on that word and what it means and how it’s supposed to impact my life.
That’s not to say that New Year’s resolutions are a bad thing. They aren’t.
Setting goals? Starting with a clean slate? Never bad things.
For many of you, you desperately want next year to be the year. If that’s you, I wanted to throw together a list of things you can do.
A list? Isn’t it just one thing? “Stop Watching Porn” or “Stop Masturbating” or “Stop Being Boy-crazy”
No, it isn’t.
I broke them up into categories and they spell out ERROR. Yes, error. If it’s weird and funny you’re more likely to remember.
1- Eliminate Triggers: I have talked a lot about triggers on the blog. Only you know what your triggers are. A powerful step in walking in freedom is to cut those triggers out. Think of it this way: If you want to eat healthy in the new year, it would be helpful to get rid of the cookies and potato chips in your house. Do you have every right to have them? Sure. Can you exercise self-control and not consume them? Of course. But will your journey be much easier if the bad choices aren’t super convenient? Absolutely.
2- Repurpose Your Time: Many times, “triggers” are synonymous with “time wasters.” The mistake people make is not doing something to replace their triggers. Think about the healthy eating example, getting rid of the cookies and potato chips is only half the battle. If I’m not bringing healthy foods into my home, I can’t eat those either. Then, I’m ordering take out every day because it’s fast and convenient and now I’m worse than I was before. Your focus this year cannot solely be “I need to stop watching porn/struggling with lust.” It must include a positive focus. What else can you do with that time?
3- Reestablish Connection: Freedom and healing don’t happen in a vacuum. They happen in community. Porn is full of false connections and powerful ones. It’s false intimacy that makes you actually afraid of the real deal. You want to fight that and step forward in freedom? You have to be intentional about reestablishing real life connections- with friends, family, spouses, church, even talking to a counselor. This is where true healing takes place.
4- Open Communication: This piggy backs on #3. Be honest about your story and your struggle. Oh, you’re the worship leader at church? Don’t care. You’re the pastor’s wife? So? This is a challenge for you to be honest, get “accountability” and start being intentional about freedom.
5- Renew Your Mind: This step is all about rebuilding your faith. It’s about actively tapping into the victory we have in Christ.
So What Can You Do?
Instead of just throwing those five “steps” at you, I wanted to break down some examples of what they can look like practically.
This is NOT a list of 30 things you have to do. When you go to a recipe site to look for meal ideas, do you make all the recipes? No. If you’re a novice cook, do you hunt for the level-five difficulty recipes that take hours to make and call for ingredients you can’t pronounce? No. What do you do? You look through the website for recipes that look like something you can and want to do.
Consider this 30 ideas. Pick the ones that seem doable to you. Trying to implement all of them simultaneously would be, in fact, an error. I recommend picking one from each category. And if porn isn’t your vice, brainstorm your own ideas in each of the categories.
And remember to celebrate progress. If you make it to February 6 and then slip up, it doesn’t mean the year is a failure. It doesn’t mean you wait until January 1 of the following year to start over.
- Take a break from social media (delete the apps from your phone and/or log out on your computer).
- Log out of online forums and communities (especially if things like fanfic are a struggle for you).
- Remove all tech from your bedroom and choose to leave your phone outside of your room (you may have to get a different alarm clock).
- Get rid music with suggestive lyrics.
- Set a limit on computer time/time checking email, etc. Have an iPhone? Set a screen time limit.
- Step down from a leadership position if that is something you are using as an excuse to stop you from getting help.
Repurpose Your Time
- Choose a new hobby that you actually want to learn and make time for it every week (such as “every day from 4-5, I will work on this).
- Make a “wish list” for the year of activities you want to do (hiking trails, road trips, songs you can play on an instrument, etc).
- Make a to do list every morning to help you stay on track and focused for the day.
- Start journaling.
- Make a time budget. Break down how you spend the 24 hours in a day and see where you want to make changes. (I’ve done this a couple times over the years and was shocked by how much time I was wasting)
- Sign up for a race or event that you have to train and prepare for.
- Pick one friend every month (or every other week, or weekly, whatever works for you) to connect with. Make it a date.
- Determine to introduce yourself to one new person every week/month.
- Join a small group or Bible study.
- Start volunteering in your community.
- Make a point to repair relationships if possible (within your power to do so) within your family.
- Find a mentor (NOT the same as an “accountability partner”). Look for a woman who excels in an area you want to excel in and ask to pick her brain and if she’ll help you learn.
- Make an appointment with a licensed counselor.
- Decide to share your story with one person this year and begin investing in that relationship.
- Write out your story and share it with your spouse, family member, or a trusted friend.
- Install an accountability software, like Covenant Eyes, on your devices. This sends a report of your browsing history and usage to another person for accountability.
- Join a recovery community- either a group in your church or an online group like this one.
- Meet with your pastor to discuss sharing your testimony with your church, especially if you are in a position of leadership (pastor’s wife, Bible study leader, etc).
Renew Your Mind
- Make a reading list of books/Bible studies you would like to tackle this year.
- Start listening to Christian podcasts.
- Commit to memorizing a new passage of Scripture every month.
- Start keeping a prayer journal.
- Start a Bible reading plan for the year (there are so many options!)
- Play praise and worship music or Christian music when you can.
My Favorites from this List
I have a blog post coming up later this week detailing some things I am doing this year. For me, it’s less about breaking free from pornography because that’s not an issue in my life right now. For me, it’s more about growing, healing, self-control and managing my time wisely.
Some long-standing favorites of mine, though, include:
Keeping tech out of my bedroom– this is a rule I’ve had for myself for a couple years and, once I got married, I was grateful my husband was on board. We have no tech in our room- no TVs, laptops, computers, tablets, or cell phones. It lets out room be a safe haven and also eliminates the temptation to be on our phones at all hours of the night (which is a danger zone for me).
Journaling– I have done this since I was a teenager. I have a box full of old journals. It’s one of the ways I process life but also a way that I can look back and see God’s faithfulness. Whenever I start a new journal, I love to first read through the old one just to see all the ways God has worked in my life. I also recommend this to friends and family who are really struggling with hurt. I’ve seen this practice do wonders.
To Do Lists– I’m fantastic at multi-tasking, but not so great at it when I don’t know what I’m supposed to do be doing. My most productive days are the ones where I write out what I’d like to get done early in the day. It helps me stay focused.
Small Groups– I love small groups! However, with COVID, obviously things aren’t the same, so I’ve had to step out of my comfort zone and start making new friends one-on-one.
Counseling- If you’ve followed my journey, you know this was hugely instrumental in more recent healing. I don’t currently see a counselor but I highly recommend it for those who are struggling.
Praise and Worship Music– I feel like this is my secret weapon in life. As the song says, “This is how I fight my battles.” Honestly, one of the reasons I go to church in person is to be able to sing the praise and worship, and I love having worship sessions in the kitchen with my daughter while I’m doing dishes or preparing dinner.
Your top choices might be different. What works for you might be different, and that’s OK! The point is to make changes in these areas this year. It’s not a guarantee that you’ll be free from porn in five weeks. Instead, it’s about steps in the right direction. Give yourself grace to grow this year.